31 Jul 2014
Reading the past weekend’s Wall Street Journal, it was difficult not to think about cigars.
No, I saw no stories about tobacco industry consolidation or the potential dangers of possible spreading FDA regulation. But there were thought-provoking revelations about other pursuits that called cigars to mind.
On the cover of the “Off Duty” section was a major piece delving into big changes in the luxury watch market. The new trend is a shift from big, complex watches to what the author called “simpler models… sleek and elegant timepieces that are smaller than a sundial…”
A Montblanc executive is quoted as saying that a few years ago a watch “couldn’t be bigger. The bigger, the louder, the better.” Now, he said, there’s been a turn toward classic, slimmer models.
Doesn’t that bring to mind the 60, 70, 80, and even larger ring gauges of so many recent cigar releases? Will the smoking world experience a shift similar to that of the watch world?
There might be a faint glimmer of one already, with lots of talk these days on some cigar forums and among some highly dedicated smokers about a preference for lanceros. Don’t take it too far, though. Ask just about any retailer or manufacturer, and they’ll tell you lancero sales remain nearly non-existent, while big ring gauges continue to move off the shelves.
Back to the Journal and a few pages further into the section, William Bostwick reported on popular craft beer brewers coping with greater demand and higher output. Some are opening new plants in response.
As they do, they worry about maintaining quality and retaining their small-brewery image. At the granddaddy of craft operations, Sierra Nevada, a manager confessed his respect for industry giants. “Making sure ever bottle tastes the same—that’s hard to do,” he said.
It’s not a stretch to imagine a boutique cigar manufacturer—whose customers would be no more likely to smoke a Macanudo than a Lips of Faith fan would be to hoist a Miller Lite—commenting similarly about General or Altadis.
The article closed with another observation that seems to mirror what’s happening in parts of the cigar industry: Working to keep innovation and experimentation alive as the operations grow.
Both articles were a stark reminder that in every endeavor there’s change. Sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good, but inevitable. Sometimes there are clues if you can spot them.
photo credit: Flickr